A district court here on Tuesday sentenced two youths who were found guilty of raping and murdering a Latvian tourist near Kovalam four years ago to double life imprisonment until death.
Sentencing and provisions
Thiruvananthapuram Additional District and Sessions Court – 1 Judge K. Sanil Kumar pronounced the verdict against Umesh, 28, and Udayakumar, 24, of Panathura in Vellar. They were awarded life sentences under Sections 376A (punishment for causing death or resulting in persistent vegetative state of victim) and Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
While passing judgement, the court stated the punishment under Section 376A shall apply for the remainder of the convicted duo’s natural lives.
They were also charged under other provisions including Sections 328 (causing hurt by means of poison or any stupefying, intoxicating or unwholesome drug), 336 (act endangering life or personal safety of others), 342 (wrongful confinement), 376(1) (rape) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the IPC.
The 33-year old victim who had a history of clinical depression came to Kerala for treatment in February 2018 had gone missing from an Ayurveda centre in Pothencode on March 14, 2018. Her putrefied remains had been discovered at a swampy locality near Thiruvallam 38 days later on April 20, 2018.
While the death was initially dismissed as a suicide case, the victim’s sister demanded a comprehensive probe suspecting foul play. Following an appeal she made before Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Kerala Police constituted a special investigation team that was supervised by the then Inspector General (Thiruvananthapuram Range) Manoj Abraham, who is currently the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau Director. District Crime Branch Assistant Commissioner J.K. Dinil, who was then the Assistant Commissioner (Fort), was the investigation officer.
Defense and prosecution
While the court resumed its proceedings on Tuesday to pass judgment in the case, the convicted duo appealed to the court to order a polygraph test. Claiming innocence, they also alleged to have seen an unidentified Yoga instructor fleeing from the crime scene. Besides, a strand of hair that was found in the area remained unidentified, they said. However, the court refused to consider their claims.
Welcoming the verdict, special public prosecutor G. Mohanraj said the court accepted the prosecution’s claim that the case was “a rarest of rare” and added the judgment would serve as a deterrent. The court also ordered the awarding of compensation to the victim’s sister.
The trial which had commenced on June 1 concluded on November 24. Thirty witnesses were heard during the trial. Among them, two people including a forensic expert were declared hostile by the court. Eighteen circumstantial evidence were also considered.